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Conde Nast Does Last-Minute Pivot On Wired App Pricing

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Last week, Conde Nast’s Bob Sauerberg explained a slightly complicated plan that had the company lowering the cost of Wired on the iPad to $3.99 for second-time buyers and keeping it at $4.99 for the first download. The idea was to offer a reward that might keep potential repeat users coming back until a subscription plan offer is in place. But the company took a sharp about-face on those plans, instead releasing the second iPad issue this week at $3.99 — a 20 percent drop across the board.

The PR explanation: “The pricing structure for the July issue did change after our conversations last week. Our plan has always been to reward repeat purchasers with a price break, however we chose to lower the price to $3.99 for everyone as we are in the midst of an R&D phase, and experimenting with pricing models. The pricing will continue to evolve and change.”

In truth, Wired wasn’t well set up for that kind of complicated price blend or for notifying those potential repeat buyers. Unlike Sports Illustrated, which had an alert about the new issue on my iPad screen first thing this morning, I think we were supposed to guess Wired had a new issue by seeing it listed in the app updates. That’s because Wired started life as a single-issue download sold as an app, while SI launched last week as a free app that could house multiple editions of the magazine and other features.

That’s the strategy Wired has opted for now, with its own variations: a free container or wrapper app with a 50MB iPad preview and a way to buy and store multiple issues. Repeat visitors can download that first half-gig edition again to access inside the app and they can but the new one at $3.99. That should give CN and Wired a way to try variable pricing, add one-time offers like mini-books or the like, and introduce subscriptions when ready. Like SI, it also could include fresh news from its companion website.

The new approach has been glitchy with numerous complaints in the App Store about Version 1.1 download problems. Conde Nast PR: “As for the download process, we